Everton sunk by Villarreal
By Patrick Goss. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Everton have a mountain to climb after falling to a 2-1 defeat to Spanish side Villarreal at Goodison Park in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League qualifier.
They may have been playing the Yellow Submarines, but it was Everton that were left with that sinking feeling, as Luciano Figueroa's fine finish and a wonderful diving header from Josico gave the Spaniards a big advantage, despite James Beattie's strike for The Toffees.
A frantic first half had seen Everton hit with a sucker punch after harrying their opponents through an opening half hour, get back on even terms just before half time, but be shattered by a second before the break.
It had been the English side that had looked the stronger through the opening stages - Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill snapping at Spanish heels to bully them out of possession.
However, despite half chances for Beattie and Cahill as debutant goalkeeper Mariano Barbosa flapped at several crosses, Villarreal regained their composure and began to show that they were dangerous on the counter.
Just after the half hour mark, Figueroa underlined that with the opener, latching onto Marcos Senna's pass and slotting past Nigel Martyn from a tight angle in some style.
Everton were rocking and were thankful for the eagle eyes of referee Tom Hening when Figueroa tumbled in the box as Martyn came flying out - but was booked for a dive rather than win a penalty.
A deep cross from Arteta gave Cahill another header at goal, but he could not get above the cross to direct downwards.
Finally, Phil Neville marked his first appearance with a lovely cross that Beattie rose to contest with Gonzalo Rodriguez and was smart enough to nudge home when the ball dropped to the floor in front of him.
It should have prompted Everton's renaissance, but instead they let their concentration fail and conceded a potentially fatal second.
Martyn may have felt he could have done better with the first, but he was faultless for the second as Josico screamed home a diving header from Juan Pablo Sorin's accurate cross, leaving the former England keeper motionless.
Everton huffed and puffed through the opening stages of the second half, but aside from a blocked overhead attempt by Simon Davies could not break down their now supremely confident opposition.
Diego Forlan, lively throughout, had a shout for handball when his header at the far post caught Alessanro Pistone, whilst at the other end Beattie failed to reach a Cahill header.
Moyes threw on Duncan Ferguson and Marcus Bent for Beattie and Kevin Kilbane, and the big Scot had an immediate impact with a header that he got a little too much on.
Marcus Bent had an even better chance when Pistone headed through but Gonzalo and Barbosa somehow managed to smother as the striker waited a fraction too long to pull the trigger.
Villarreal retreated under the aerial barrage, but although the crowd spent much of their time on their feet as wave after wave was repelled - Barbosa was rarely made to look at patchy as he had at times in the first.
Out of ideas, Everton resorted to lumping the ball up to Ferguson and got steadily more annoyed as the referee gave free-kick after free-kick against them.
Alessio Tacchinardi - a summer arrival from Juventus - could have made things even worse for The Toffees at the death, but did not direct a free header.
In truth, the more wily team won out on the night, and it would take a much more positive Everton performance to have any chance of overturning an already mountainous deficit.
|1||1st Half Goals||2|
|2||Shots on Target||2|
|4||Shots off Target||4|